Friday, August 29, 2008

Take a look at ourselves

Time for a change indeed was the title of an excellent post Monday at Auspicious Jots. In it she said, "We are not the religious arm of the Democratic Party.We sure do look like it far too often." In it is a heart breaking comment from someone who feels shut out of her congregation because of the overt politicizm.

I am often told I exaggerate the image of our religion as merely the chaplains of the Democratic party. Consider this story from Inside , "Area Dems cheer Obama"
"As Sen. Barack Obama prepared to deliver his speech accepting the Democratic party's presidential nomination Thursday night, a group of party loyals gathered to watch the speech in the social hall of the Bull Run Unitarian Universalist Church in Manassas."..."Obama campaign signs hung on the walls inside and outside of the Bull Run Unitarian Universalist Church on Thursday night."

I'm still committed to my congregation, though for the first time in twelve years I believe I'll skip coffee hours for the rest of the year. I don't believe I'll want to hear the conversations, nor read the crap that's sure to be pinned to the bulletin board. I might curtail my Channing Club activities, too, as I'm tiring of hearing "jokes" like "Of course I'll be there- unless Bush has us all in concentration camps by then".
*sigh* Sometimes I just feel so tired, and wonder why I bother smacking my forehead into brick walls. Sometimes I envy Robin Edgar's energy and determination, if not his judgment. Maybe ice cream will help.

I have received the following statement:
"The use of our building for this event was a building rental, for which the congregation was paid in full. It was not a congregational activity. It was announced as such at the beginning of the event, was not publicized through congregational communications channels, and was communicated to the press as an event of the Prince William County Democratic Party, not an event of our congregation. We are in the habit of hosting many rental events here in our church building that help us to pay the bills and fulfill our distinctly religious mission. We also accept rental fees from Mary Kay Cosmetics, from the PW County Chamber of Commerce, local business owners, and a Yoga Studio. In fact, we make every effort to ensure that what we do here is liberal religion, not a front for liberal politics."

I feel better!


Anonymous said...

I think I know, knowing you, but I have to ask. Have you went to the board and/or your minister and expressed the hurt that these comments and postings have caused?

I will be honest I hear a lot of comments like these in the Pagan community as well. But those are side comments, not part of our religious message.

Will said...

I'm not convinced the UU movement is not an arm of the Democratic Party. It sure did feel like that to me.

Hang in there, Joel.

Robin Edgar said...

My judgment is every bit as sound as my energy and determination Joel. You might have done well to envy my judgment on certain U*U matters, not the least of them being my repeated pointing out that, in spite of spurious claims to the contrary, the U*U "church" effectively is the religious arm of the Democratic Party, to say nothing of the Communist Party. . . The Oregonian did not describe Unitarian*Universalism as "the Church of the Far Left" for nothing Joel.

Joel Monka said...

dubhlainn, I have; our minister is a friend. But the worst offenders are not being nasty, they truly don't understand. Conservatives think Liberals are wrong; Liberals think Conservatives are stupid or evil. (CC hates it when I say that, even though a commenter on her own blog wrote that Conservatives are incapable of rational thought; they can, at best, memorize a few facts to parrot back) So friends at church are actually trying to save me, the way caring, compassionate Christians try to save gays. Though of course they don't see the analogy.

Robin Edgar said...

You almost got there Joel but not quite. . . Many if not most U*Us apparently believe that Conservatives, and pretty much everyone else they disagree with. . . are mentally unbalanced or out and outright insane.

Anyone who has any doubts about U*Uism being the religious arm of the Democratic Party need only check out uupdates to see what most U*U bloggers are blogging about.

Robin Edgar said...

If it will make you feel better Joel, many if not most of the U*Us I have the misfortune to know seem to be quite incapable of rational thought; they can, at best, memorize a few fraudulent principlesto parrot back. . .

Chalicechick said...

Smile. I did just that.

UUpdates says we're talking about:

- Prayers for New Orleans

- A philosophical question about lust for power

-Moral outrage over a community college president getting drunk with his students

- How to tell someone that they are being racist.

-A column on social securiy

-A sexist t-shirt

-Delightful things about having children.

-Good deeds a cancer patient and her mom are doing to make the ward more comfortable for the other patients.

-Joel talking about Halloween candy

-A church newsletter's transmission problems.

-An article on Palin

- News for Pagans.

- A post about someone questioning her faith and how she finds it again.

- A Pro-Palin post applauding her qualifications.

- A post about vegetarianism.

- Two more posts about Palin

- The Socinian writing about an autobiography he's been reading and a bunch of other books.

- Monkey Mind wanting to know about people's ultimate concerns.

And this is less than 24 hours after Palin's announcement, so one would think the political talk wold be heavier than usual.

Yes, people talk about politics and religion and what they are reading and ideas and each other and their kids.

To me this sounds like a coffee hour.

And yes, I could skip the political conversations.

But I wouldn't want to miss the rest.


Robin Edgar said...

My point was that U*Us are predominantly left-wing aka "liberal" in their political ideology CC. That is why people can and do describe U*Uism "the religious arm of the Democratic Party" and even "the Church of the Far Left". . . Browsing through uupdates, no matter how many days you go back, bears that allegation out. There are no less than two dozen blog posts made by U*U bloggers in the last 24 hours that support those descriptions of U*Uism. Do U*U bloggers discuss other matters too? Of course. So do bloggers who are card-carrying members of the Democratic Party.

Might I add that there are at least three other blog posts that effectively confirm what Joel is saying here? Dublainn's, Auspicious Jots' and the one from Monkey Mind "wanting to know about people's ultimate concerns." Did you even bother to read it CC? Here are the first few paragraphs -

A major problem for American Unitarian Universalists (and perhaps Canadian UUs, as well) is how we tend to be overwhelmingly liberal politically. I find this coincidence of liberal religion and liberal politics quite congenial. But, it does create the sense we are the (left wing of the) Democratic party at prayer. Both to outsiders and to many of us.

This would be fine if we were a contemplative working group of the Democratic party.

But we're not. We are a church, a gathered people of faith.

Can U*Us say "Doh!"

Chalicechick said...

Well, Robin, churches tend to attract people with similar values and that often translates to similar politics. I've never been to a church of any denomination that didn't have a pretty significant majority of one political stripe or another.

So it doesn't really bother me that the politics posts were mostly negative ones about Palin, with a few positive ones and a post about the issue of politics in church in general sprinkled it.
I suspect a list of blogs written by reform Jews or liberal protestants would have posts in similar numbers.

My guess is a set of Southern Baptist blogs would be 180 degrees the opposite, excepting possibly that I seriously doubt any Baptists are losing sleep over not having enough democrats. (But I could be wrong.)

What bothers me most is politics from the pulpit, followed closely by politics in my name from the denomination. Individual UUs talking politics at coffee hour bothers me less because, well, probably because I'm from Washington and people here discuss politics everywhere. I won't sign petitions or do anything church sponsored politics-wise, but if the people want to talk about politics, I don't see why they shouldn't.

I do want them to refrain from being jerks about it, but honestly the presence of conservative voices in HELP them not be jerks about it. Because maybe the more extreme liberals seek to convert. Most of us who talk politics just like to talk, and having a different voice leads to better discussion and more thoughtful responses and "Senator _____ sucks"
becomes "I see what you're saying, but I'm concerned about the senator's stand on...."

And for what it's worth, I didn't pick and choose the day and time I looked at UUpdates. I looked at what was there when I first read this post and you suggested I do that and took a faithful snapshot of it.

But I my point, and I did have one, in doing all that typing, was to remind Joel and everyone here of the diversity that really does exist at coffee hour and the richness you miss when you focus on the conversations that are annoying you (which, God knows, is easy to do, and I get that). Yes, there are people talking politics at coffee hour and maybe they are being jerks and maybe they aren't.

But there are also proud mommies and readers and newsletter writers and vegetarians and pagans and strivers-after-better-things and the philisophically inclined.

When you miss coffee hour, you miss a lot.

And I suspect your friends, liberals, readers and mommies alike, miss you.


Joel Monka said...

You make some good points, CC. For the record, my church does not have Obama posters all over it like the one I referenced, nor will there be any political stuff from the pulpit once the church year starts. (tomorrow is the last summer speaker- I intend to play hookey; I'm in no mood to listen to the president of the local AFL-CIO for the twelth straight year)

Normally I hang in there during coffee hours, usually enjoying the discussions despite knowing that I'll never convince anyone of a single point, much less an issue, both of us happy just to be stretching our minds and honing our points. But I've been enjoying it less and less the last four years, as a visciousness has been creeping into it now and then that really disturbs me. I'm finding it difficult to imagine discussions that won't turn bitter and nasty until the election- and however many lawsuits it will take to settle it- are over.

I don't want to answer back as nasty as I get served... and the best way to beat temptation is to avoid it. I may be saving friendships and retaining my respect for my fellow congregates by simply avoiding them for a while. I could be wrong. I may stay for a coffee hour or two and see. It's a decision almost as difficult as the one I'll have to make in the voting booth- and I don't know at this point what either decision will be.

Robin Edgar said...

What's are "congregates" Joel? ;-)

But seriously, and to be fair. . . I would presume that the U*U "church" in question that had "Obama posters all over it" only did so because it hosted a public viewing of Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. I expect that those posters were gone the next day. What probably happened is that "a group of party loyals" rented or "borrowed" the Bull Run Unitarian Universalist Church's "social hall" for this special event. This does not change the fact that the U*U "church" is effectively "the religious arm of the Democratic Party" but it is unlikely that Obama posters are plastered all over U*U "churches" on a regular basis.

I can't help but wonder if Mona "The Hammer" Shaw was in attendance at this event though, after all it was held at her U*U "church".

Will said...

I hope I'm all right posting here. Having left the movement I don't want to sound like a bitter disgruntled-one. Sad yes, bitter know.

Just can't help but react to your you're comment about the AFL-CIO leader speaking for the tenth straight year on Labor Day Sunday. My guess is that 'most everyone in your church agrees with the guy, whatever it was he said. Or they assume that everyone agrees with him.

Where we had been going to church here in the DC area, there is a group that is pushing for government paid health care for all. Fine, I don't have a problem with people advocating that, even tho I don't agree with it personally. Nor is there a problem with people seeing this as a religious issue rather than a political one.

Folks just have to realize that Wifey here makes her living as an executive for one the the nation's largest HMOs. She's the breadwinner. That's how our bread is buttered, so to speak. In this house we don't think it's sinful to work for such a company. We think her company and the system, tho far from perfect, provides something better than a single payor system would. We've even seen that many in the HMO industry are very compassionate people who are working hard within the system to make health care better for everyone.

Not speaking for Wifey here, only for myself--I just couldn't take it any more. The assumption that everyone in the room on Sunday morning was for single payor health care (which, if enacted, will put this family in the unemployment line). That everyone was against torture, against the war, and religiously pro-choice. That corporations are Bad and Bush is evil.

And, as well, that assumption by some if not many, that people who disagree on these issues are flawed, ignorant, or guilty of sin.

So I left. And that's what people will do--they will leave. They will not come to church to be converted the Liberal Ways or to defend their political beliefs. Who would want to go to church to do that? They'll just leave. Or never join in the first place.

I applaud Auspicious Jots and Joel for addressing this.

Robin Edgar said...

"Sad yes, bitter know."

Freudian slip? I can well understand how it might well be one. . .

"And, as well, that assumption by some if not many, that people who disagree on these issues are flawed, ignorant, or guilty of sin."

You omitted mentally ill Will. Perhaps you were just being polite, but I have seen too many examples of U*Us pathologizing people who don't "think alike". . . You might want to thank Monkey Mind, aka Rev. James Ishmael Ford, for addressing this issue at about the same time that Auspicious Jots and Joel did.

Will said...

I did mean "no". That's the prob with me proofing my own stuff, Robin. I always read it the way I *meant* to write it, not the way it actually is put down on the screen.

Robin Edgar said...

Me too Will. . . ;-)

OTOH A Freudian Slip is a Freudian Slip is a Freudian Slip.

Robin Edgar said...

In light of the update that you posted about the Prince William County Democratic Party renting the social hall of the U*U "church" in questions it looks like my judgment about that issue was quite sound, and you were just a tad naive once again Joel. ;-)